I had the good fortune to travel throughout China in 2007 and enjoy authentic Hot Pot in Lijiang in Hunan Province. There are a couple of fun places I like to go for Chinese Hot Pot in Calgary’s Chinatown listed here. To be honest, though, my favourite way to enjoy the Hot Pot dining experience is at home with friends. This post will give you tips and recipes so you can do the same.
Tips for Successful Chinese Hot Pot (Fondue Chinois)
- Have a fire extinguisher near the table.
- Protect your table top with a sturdy thick pad and make sure the hot pot and burner are not “tippy”.
- Assist younger children at all times.
- Keep meats and seafood on separate plates and keep them wrapped with saran and in the fridge until it is time to cook them.
- Have extra chicken broth available. Heat it in the microwave or have it warming in a pot on the stove to be added as necessary to your evaporating hot pot. You’ll want to keep the hot pot two-thirds full.
- Plan on four people per traditional fondue pot or four to six people for an open Chinese hot pot.
- Paper thin cuts of meat are the key to fast cooking. Look for these at your favourite butcher or Asian Markets.
- Plan on serving at least a half cup of at least four dips. If you keep the broth fairly mild you can offer some spicy dips.
- Ideas for meats can include beef, chicken, pork, and lamb.
- Seafood like scallops, shrimp, mussels, oysters, squid, cuttlefish, and octopus are all delicious and cook quickly.
- There are a wide variety of fish balls for sale at Asian markets and while they can taste good the texture is an acquired taste so buy a few the first time and if you like them buy more the next time.
- Tofu is great in hot pot because it soaks up all the flavours. Use extra firm tofu.
- Vegetables to try include the following: shitake or button mushrooms, rehydrated black fungus, enoki mushrooms, bok choy, su choy, Napa cabbage, spinach, broccoli, chopped diakon, bean sprouts, snake beans, shallots.
- You can make soup at the end of the meal by adding your favourite noodles and more meat and greens. I’ve tried Udon, rice vermicelli and mung thread noodles. Noodles are especially important to serve at Chinese New Year as the represent a long life.
- Rice is a great side dish.
- Tea, beer, sake or wine all go well with hot pot.
Now once you’ve got a fondue or hot pot you’ll need broth and some tasty sauces.
Basic Chicken Stock – I include this recipe as it will save you a lot of money.
I am never without homemade chicken stock in my freezer. My recipe produces about 16 cups for the cost of a few veggies and herbs. I keep two large plastic bags in my freezer. One is for saving chicken carcass bones and the other is for vegetable bits left over from my chopping board. I collect celery hearts, carrot ends, leeks, scallions and onion skins. When I have about 2 – 5 lbs of bones I am ready to make stock.
3 bay leaves
3 sprigs of parsley
3 sprigs of thyme
2-5 lbs chicken bones
6 quarts cold water (warm can seal the bones and lock the flavour inside them)
3 pieces celery
3 carrots, whole but peeled
2 onions, halved and any extra onion skins you have collected (they add a nice brown color)
1 apple, halved
Kosher salt to taste
Tie the peppercorns and herbs in a cheese cloth bag or place in a tea ball.
Place the herbs and all other ingredients in a large heavy-bottom pot and cover until there is 1 inch of cold water above the veggies and bones.
Bring to a slow boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for at least 2-4 hours. Tip: Avoid a rolling boil as it will cause cloudy stock.
Strain the broth and discard any solids.
Return the broth to simmer for an additional 30 minutes if you desire a more intense flavour.
Add salt to taste.
Tip: The stock may be kept in the fridge for 4 days. After that it will sour and need to be re-boiled. It will keep well in 1 – 2 cup containers in the freezer for up to a year. Thaw as you need them.
Chinese Hot Pot Broth
Now that you have your very own broth here is how to get it ready for a meal of Chinese Hot Pot. (Substitute organic store bought chicken broth as you wish).
2 Tablespoons canola oil
3 finely chopped green onions
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
1 Tablespoon garlic paste
1 Tablespoon ginger paste
1 cup white wine
1 litre chicken stock
Heat a saucepan on medium heat and add the onions, chilli flakes, garlic and ginger.
Cook until fragrant – about 1 minute.
Add the wine and broth and bring to a boil.
Transfer to the hotpot or fondue pot.
Chinese Hot Pot with Turmeric (adapted from Ricardo Magazine – Winter 2007)
2 onions (I used about 10 shallots instead – seemed more Asian to me)
2 cloves of garlic
1 Tablespoon ginger
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon turmeric
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 litre chicken broth
2 Tablespoons honey
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Finely chop the onions, garlic and ginger in a food processor.
Fry the mixture in the oil for about 1 minute in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
Stir in the turmeric and coriander and then the broth, honey, tomato paste, hot pepper sauce and sesame oil.
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes before transferring to your hot pot.
Add salt to taste.
Ricardo’s Dipping Sauces
#1 – Curry Sauce
¼ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon curry powder
¼ teaspoon turmeric
In a bowl whisk together all the ingredients.
#2 – Peanut Sauce
½ cup hot water
¼ cup peanut butter
¼ cup hoisin sauce
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon rice vinegar
½ teaspoon hot pepper flakes
1 clove finely chopped garlic
In a saucepan, bring all ingredients to a boil, whisking constantly.
#3 – Asian Sauce
¼ cup mirin (This can be hard to find -it’s sweetened rice wine vinegar and I find it at Korean and Asian markets. If you can’t find it add some sugar to rice wine vinegar)
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 Tablespoon finely chopped cilantro
1 finely sliced green onion
1 teaspoon Sambal oelek
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and serve at room temperature.
Let me know how it goes. I hope you savour it all as you slurp your hot pot.